Emanuel H.(Manny) Ludmer. Jan 4,1909-March 21, 1958. My father.
Today marks the 60th anniversary of his death on that first day of Spring in 1958, during the very heavy, wet snowstorm, like NY is seeing today.
Today feels like it always does on the anniversary, painful. Trauma at 16 when one doesn’t have the sufficient defenses to deal with it, lasts a lifetime.
I tried to stop him from going to NYC that day for I feared for his life. His heart condition (and doctor’s orders) to not walk in heavy snow, did not stop him from physically brushing me back as he walked down the stairs from Cooper Place to get the #61 bus to the Port Authority.
It only toook 45 minutes after he left for the Weehawken Police to be at out door telling us he had a heart attack in the Port Authority and was taken to St. Claires Hospital. My mother and I then took the bus and repeated his steps. When we got to the Hospital he was already dead. For years the Port Authority Bus Terminal was a very difficult place for me. The cops had shown me exactly where he fell on the stairs going down to the subway.
For every year since then, like an obsessive compulsive, I recount the trauma of that day, and never fail to not dream about it.
I marked the one year anniversary by tying to console myself by saying 16 years with him and only one year without. Then over the years the pattern has had its memorable numbers,16-8 was when I got drafted and feared for my own life as it was Vietnam. 16-19 was when I bought my house. 16-23 was when I got married. 16-26 was when Josh was born. 16-29 was Aly. I have survived and done well. It turns out to have made me resilient, strong and independent. When there is no one there to rely on, you learn to rely on yourself, and not without a lot of mistakes along the lifelong learning curve.
I wish he had been part of my life as I have had so many topics I wanted to talk to him about and in later years just to have him part of my life and its events. But it was not meant to be and it is what it is. Today I am at 16-60. Incredible number in itself and I can tell you the trauma is still in me. But fortunately I have me to rely on. See you next year dad. Ps You know,dad, you really should have stayed home that day, King Features Syndicated would have survived without their stock clerk that day. I am no longer mad at you for trying to prove to your boss that you could do the job, despite the heart condition and the previous four attacks. The irony was the boss didn’t even make it in to work that day.
The boss’s wife, my mother’s best friend, called her and said “I hope Manny doesn’t try to get into the city today.” He had already left. Footnote, the following night, on her way home from the funeral parlor visit, the boss’s wife was killed in a head on crash, with a drunk driver. My mother was never the same. When we were done with my father’s funeral we went to “Aunt Edith’s.” He really should have stayed home.